Mayor Tara Veer challenged the Senate Standing Committee for Transport and Communication on Monday to look at how best to transport crude oil safely in light of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline project.
Veer said city council recently adopted a motion supporting Energy East, a project that will have a direct impact on Red Deer.
“We’re at a historic high in terms of unemployment and we also lost population. As one of Canada’s fastest growing cities it is a cause of concern for us,” said Veer after meeting with the committee in Edmonton.
“We have been very intentional in diversifying our economy on a number of fronts, but it’s very clear given our current unemployment that we still remain highly reliant on the energy sector, both from commodity perspective but also on a value-added perspective in terms of some of the economic spinoff in our community.”
The controversial $15.8-billion pipeline project first proposed in 2013 aims to transport 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada.
A review of the pipeline by the National Energy Board hit a snag last month when all three panelists were recused following complaints that two of them met privately with a TransCanada consultant last year and discussed the proposed oil pipeline.
New members will be chosen by the federal government.
Veer said ultimately the pipeline is in the best interests of all Albertans and Canadians, but debate has degenerated into a regional debate on whether pipelines should proceed.
“The debate has been centered around if, when really the conversation should be how do we best safely transport domestic product to both domestic and international markets.
“Often times pipelines will be opposed on social and environmental grounds. The point in our submission today is ultimately to say that it’s not only economically sustainable, but it’s more environmentally and socially sustainable to source energy domestically, in particular from Alberta, that has some of the highest environmental and social standards in the world.”
She said the committee is involved in a fact-finding mission across the country and will hopefully make a recommendation before the federal government makes critical decisions this fall, particularly regarding Energy East.
Veer said the panel was very receptive to Red Deer’s message and suggested the city convey its message on a national scope, especially throughout Eastern Canada.